Last Updated:  September 14 2023

Overview of the application process

New graduates are accepted for Fall term only. Applications that are received by the priority deadline will be acted upon and notification of admission sent by our notification deadline.  Applications received after the priority deadline will be treated individually on a space-available basis. Assistantships and fellowships will normally be awarded by the notification deadline. The absolute closing date for Fall admission each year is May 1st.

Note:  Being admitted to the Physics graduate program does not guarantee admission to any specific group in the department, or the mentorship of a particular adviser.

Most students receive a teaching assistantship (TA) contingent on being admitted to our program. The assistantship includes a stipend and tuition waivers. However, it does not include incidental and mandatory fees, or health insurance. Please see our frequently asked questions page for more information.

Important dates

  1. Priority deadline for your application to be fully considered:  January 5th 
  2. Notification deadline:  April 15th
  3. Closing date for admissions:  May 1st

Application guidelines 

Before your application can be reviewed for admission, all of the items of the online application must be submitted.  To ensure full consideration, your application must be completed and submitted by the priority application deadline listed above.Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Ensure all forms are filled out completely; list all colleges and universities which you have attended, no matter how brief attendance may have been or whether such attendance is shown on the transcript of another institution

The online application form can be accessed by the following link: online application form.

Overview of mandatory application items

Note: the subject and general GRE scores are not required for applications to our graduate program. GRE scores will not be considered during our admissions process.


Personal statement

Your personal statement should state your educational objectives for attending graduate school at Montana State University and address any qualifications that would support your entry into our graduate programs. It should describe personal and professional objectives, research interests, applicable experience or any other information relevant to the admissions review.


Current transcripts are required for the application process. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the application process and official transcripts are not required. 

If you are admitted to the program and accept the offer, you must submit official transcripts showing proof of a bachelors degree, all post-bachelors transcripts, and any transcripts including 60 or more credits taken prior to the completion of a bachelors degree.

Three letters of recommendation

Recommendations should be from individuals qualified to assess your ability and potential as a graduate student.

Application fee

The application fee is $70.  It is determined by the graduate school and cannot be waived by the department.

Inquiries about application fee waivers should be directed to the graduate school:

English proficiency

All international applicants must submit proof of proficiency in English unless your bachelors or masters degree is from specific countries designated by the graduate school.

For TOEFL, the overall score must be 80 or higher with a speaking score of 26 or higher.

For IELTS, the overall and speaking scores must be 6.5 or higher.

For Duolingo, the overall and conversation scores must be 120 or higher.

Research interests

An important part of your application is for you to list the areas of research and faculty advisers in our department that interest you for your graduate degree.

Below, you will find a summary of our primary research areas and the research-active faculty members in each area. More information about these research areas can be found on our departmental research programs page and individual research group pages.

Active research areas and faculty

Research area
Faculty advisers
Astrophysics and gravity

Neil Cornish - 
Bennett Link - 
Anne Lohfink - 
David Nidever - 
Amy Reines -  
Hang Yu -

Experimental condensed matter, optical, and quantum physics

Randy Babbitt - 
Nick Borys - 
Rufus Cone - and Charles Thiel 
Brian D'Urso - 
John Neumeier - 
Aleks Rebane - 

Physics education research (PER)

Shannon Willoughby - 

Solar physics and space science

Rachael Filwett -                         

Charles Kankelborg - 

Dana Longcope - 

Jiong Qiu - 
John Sample - 

Theoretical condensed matter physics

Anton Vorontsov - 

Additional information

  • Applicants claiming Montana state residency must complete the appropriate residency sections in their entirety. Failure to provide all requested information, with accompanying dates, will default your residency status to "Nonresident". Corrections require a lengthy appeals process.

Further questions

For questions regarding graduate admissions and application material, please contact

In addition, please refer to our frequently asked questions page that covers many common inquiries that we receive about our graduate program.